Now that they have said their goodbyes to their Gilbert colleague, the remaining four members of the Maricopa County Board of Supervisors have begun digging into the applications from 13 East Valley Republicans eager to finish the remaining two years of Denny Barney’s term.
During his final official meeting as a supervisor, Barney thanked everyone from his staff to his family and friends who attended his final board meeting.
“Life is about dreams and one of mine was to serve in elected office,” said Barney. “I arrived at Maricopa County thinking I knew how it should work. But I had a lot to learn, and I love being a part of a team working to improve people’s lives.”
Barney stepped down last Friday to focus on his position as president/CEO of the East Valley Partnership, a consortium of government, business and community leaders who advocate for economic development, education and other major issues in the region.
Last Friday also was the last day for public comment on the 13 applicants – who include eight primary or general election candidates who lost their races last year.
The four remaining supervisors and the Clerk of the Board will be voting on a replacement by mid-February. That replacement by law must be a Republican and registered voter in District 1, which includes Ahwatukee, Scottsdale, Tempe, Chandler, Mesa, Gilbert, Sun Lakes and Queen Creek.
Supervisors will review the applications and interview whom they want independent of each other, said county spokesman Fields Mosely.
As for when the board might actually vote on Barney’s replacement, Mosely said, “All dates are determined by Chairman (Bill) Gates’ office. He wants to make sure his colleagues have a chance to speak with applicants.”
Of the 13 hopefuls to fill the slot, only four have never held elective office – Angela Creedon, associate vice president of community relations for Arizona State University who held a similar position for APS prior to joining ASU President Michael Crow’s staff; Gilbert construction office manager Rusdon Ray; Tempe commercial airlines pilot Frank Schmuck, who lost the Senate race in Legislative District 18; and Gilbert businessman Jimmy Lindblum, who lost in a three-way Republican primary for State House in Legislative District 12.
Creedon – the only hopeful who picked up an endorsement, from Mesa Mayor John Giles – is also one of only two women who have applied for the vacancy. The other is Jill Norgaard of Ahwatukee, who lost her bid for a third term in the Legislative District 18 House seat last fall.
The other candidates who have submitted applications are:
Norgaard’s running mate, Tempe lawyer Greg Patterson, who served two terms in the State House in the mid-1990s;
Former state Rep. Warde Nichols, owner of an Ahwatukee pool cleaning service;
Brandon Schmoll, a former member of the Tempe Union High School governing board who lost his bid for a second term as constable;
Chandler Councilman Mark Stewart, who won his first term in 2016;
Steven Yarbrough, who retired as State Senate President last year, ending a 16-year career in the State Legislature;
Jack Sellers, a two-term Chandler City Council member whom Gov. Doug Ducey reappointed to a term on the State Transportation Board;
David Richins, a former Mesa City Council member and president/CEO of United Food Bank;
Mark Forese, who lost a three-way contest for a second term on the state Corporation Commission.
During Barney’s final meeting, supervisors played a video tribute expressing their gratitude for his six years of service. Whoever replaces Barney must run in 2020 for a full four-year term.
“He always answers questions directly and just calls it like he sees it. That’s so refreshing in government,” said Gates. “The issues that come to the board are not the easy ones. The ones that come to us are challenging, and that’s where he always rises to the occasion. We are going to miss him.”
Vice Chairman Clint Hickman called Barney “kind and inclusive” and said, “He really helped make this board click.”
Supervisor Steve Chucri, of District 2, added, “He’s going to say what he believes from the heart, not for political showmanship or any other reason, but just for the very fact that he’s principled.”
Added Supervisor Steve Gallardo: “He was one guy you turned to when you had discussions on land issues or the budget. He was a hawk.”